CFI Initial - Notice of Disapproval - Still waiting...

CFI A&P

Exploring the world one toilet at a time.
Hello everyone... I wanted to run this by the JC community to see if I am missing something. I began CFI Initial checkride in early August and am still waiting for DPE to complete the checkride after receiving a Notice of Disapproval.

The somewhat brief background:

Clue #1: FOI

I scheduled the checkride with a DPE per the instructions of the local FSDO. Was all ready to go, however, a few days before the scheduled date my DPE called and said I had to go take the FOI. I hadn't taken the FOI because the regs seemed to indicate that being a university professor provide an option to skip this exam for the CFI Initial. I figured there was no reason to push back given they were giving me the checkride.... .. no problem.-- a week later I took the exam - passed with a 98%. Done... let's roll.

Clue #2. All Knowing CFI

Though I had completed the whole big CFI binder, I set it aside as I prefer to teach with a simple tabbed outline in a binder in front of me that includes key topics just to make sure I cover everything I want to include in each lesson. It's just an outline... there is no content included. I've been teaching that way for the past 18 years, so that is how I prepared for the checkride. When the initial checkride day finally came, and we got through all the requisite paperwork, we got rolling. All was going along well until the DPE said "You know... the CFI is considered the PhD of aviation... you should know all of this stuff cold... you need to quit reading your notes and close the binder in front of you"

At that point I simply closed the binder as I did not want to get into a philosophical debate about the fact that nobody knows "everything"... but they need to be able to admit they don't know something or know where to find the answer. That's basic leadership / management 101.

Clue #3 Notice of Disapproval

The next 4 hours, from my perspective, went relatively smoothly. I answered or taught concepts for each of the areas within the PTS... had a few questions that I stumbled upon... then we got to the National Airspace System. The DPE said I should teach the NAS in about 15 minutes... well... prior to the checkride... I must have rehearsed this section time and again and I compressed things to about 20-25 minutes... anyhow... I completed that section and the DPE leaned back and asked if I had covered everything. I immediately knew that I had missed something but for the life of me I couldn't figure it out.

The DPE gave me a few minutes to look at the board and see if I could come up with what I was missing... then finally said... "well... you know what direction we are heading in here". To which I replied... "Well... I know that I am missing something you are looking for... and I am unable at this time to figure out what that is" The DPE then said that he is going to have to give me a Notice of Disapproval and that I would have to retest just for the NAS and the Maneuver lesson. Everything else was good to go.

I had asked what I missed... and the DPE said that I failed to talk about the airspeed limitation below 10k and below class B airspace. Though I was totally bummed... I did in fact for whatever reason totally drop the ball on that element within the lesson. On the upside... I did ok enough to pass the previous 4.5 hour oral so all I needed to do is reteach NAS, the maneuver, and go fly!

Clue #4. The Traveling DPE

Since the end of August, I have been trying to reschedule with the DPE given that I had 60 days before my efforts essentially expired. Well... the problem is, that the DPE has been traveling the country doing checkrides to help catch up from COVID. On on hand, I totally understand the situation we are in with the backlog, and understand the DPE's ability to earn some additional revenue in the process... but shouldn't the DPE also be committed to finishing the checkrides they begin?

It's now well beyond 60 days... the DPE is unresponsive to voicemail and follow-up texts. Everytime we reschedule... we've been either cancelled by weather or his schedule has changed and the DPE is unable to make it as planned.

Next Steps??

Should I just consider this a lost cause at this point and not push to have the DPE finish the checkride? Am I within my right to request at least half of the $850 dollars refunded? The DPE did conduct half the checride... but they have not been very efficient with getting back with me to finish the checkride.

I'm often too easy going and just roll with things.... the folks at our flight school are pretty annoyed as this is really unusual. I've never failed or received a Notice of Disapproval before for a checkride. From a professional standpoint.... I find the DPE to be incredibly unprofessional and sloppy... but at the same time I'm not pushing the person who is grading my performance.

Thoughts on how I should proceed?
You should approach the FSDO with the same level of detail and professionalism you had on your checkride and while making this post. This is 1,000,000 % the DPE's lack of professionalism. Usually failures of the oral portions become a he said she said situation and never go anywhere. However, you've consistently tried to follow up and finish the checkride while that DPE ghosts you. This sounds very similar to someone else I know that is having issues with a DPE. Could you DM me the name, I'd be curious.

For what its worth, the other person I know that is having an issue with a DPE's behavior filled a complaint with the FSDO. You won't get your money back, but it could help others from being scammed by that DPE.
 

Bamaaviator

Well-Known Member
Ahhh, another bad DPE on a CFI initial. Every once in a while I hear about this, and it gets my blood boiling. Can’t use any of your notes? CFI is supposed to be an expert in all things aviation? So stupid, I remember all back through high school and into college my teachers/professors would look at or glance at their notes here and there. You CANNOT expect even the BEST teachers to just ‘close up the notes for the entire lecture/discussion.’

What a crock of xxxx!! I hate when DPE’s pull those stupid moves on applicants. It’s like they’re trying to intimidate the applicant on purpose. Then once they see the applicant stumble a few times, it gets worse and worse for the applicant, then they start to realize they’re stumbling because at this point they’re aware of the intimidation tactics. Then the examiner moves in on them with “you know where this is going right?”

OP I’m not saying you were stumbling from this guy with his antics and tricks he had up his sleeve, but many applicants do, and it’s not fair to the applicant. I’ve heard of all kinds of ridiculous bull spit that some of these DPE’s like to throw at people. It’s like they get a kick out of it to make themselves feel like they have a ‘God complex.’

I can guarantee you if someone walked in on these examiners during their bogus checkrides they give, and you asked them some off the charts kind of question, they couldn’t answer it. Then I’d tell them “well it appears that you don’t know enough about aviation sir, I need to revoke your DPE license now.” I’ve heard of all kinds of stuff from what I like to call rogue examiners like this one, ranging from ‘tell me which component on the aircraft do these electrical wires run to?....to...’recite for me word for word exactly as it says in the FAR’s the privileges and limitations of a CFI.’ On the first example I heard applicant failed after he said to the examiner ‘I honestly do not know, but I can ask the mechanics for the maintenance manual and see if I can find the answer to your question.’ On the second example the applicant didn’t fail, but sort of challenged the examiner’s STUPID request and was then allowed to look it up in the regs.


In my opinion the ones who ask these kinds of stupid questions on CFI checkrides and make these unrealistic and unreasonable requests of CFI applicants honestly are probably some of the worst teachers in aviation. I did mine with the FAA and although I heard the FAA usually was the pain in the XXX for the longest time for these rides, I got pretty lucky and got an inspector who was fair and reasonable. He never pulled a ‘fast one’ and tried to make it ‘hard for the sake of being hard.’ My CFI initial was honestly the best checkride I’ve ever taken, but I can’t say the same for other candidates who get some of these crazy xxxholes of examiners.

The one thing you need that sort of tells all about this DPE’s character is his TOTAL lack of professionalism in how he’s not responding to your follow up. Honestly, I would just drop him and and find another examiner.
 

BEEF SUPREME

Well-Known Member
My only checkride failure: CFI

The DPE failed me on the power off 180 we did 3 then the got frustrated and did something non standard. Grabbed the throttle and had my fly to the numbers when he failed the engine. So I landed as intended exactly on the touchdown zone. Guy gets all frustrated and says I failed.

I did one power off 180 for the guy the next day and he got an additional 500 bucks or whatever. CFI in hand.

Cooperate graduate. Its the same at every training center for all of your professional rides. Little fifedoms of mini hitlers who all want to show you how rad they are. Yes sir, no sir. Leave with your career intact. It's sad that this is how aviation training is. But here we are...
 

ahw01

Well-Known Member
My only checkride failure: CFI

The DPE failed me on the power off 180 we did 3 then the got frustrated and did something non standard. Grabbed the throttle and had my fly to the numbers when he failed the engine. So I landed as intended exactly on the touchdown zone. Guy gets all frustrated and says I failed.

I did one power off 180 for the guy the next day and he got an additional 500 bucks or whatever. CFI in hand.

Cooperate graduate. Its the same at every training center for all of your professional rides. Little fifedoms of mini hitlers who all want to show you how rad they are. Yes sir, no sir. Leave with your career intact. It's sad that this is how aviation training is. But here we are...
I did the same. He took me to a narrow runway, wanted to see if I could judge altitude vs the home field. Tried a few times. Headed back. Finished up a couple of days later after some remedial power180s.

Definitely a hump to get over/move on.
 

LostComm

Well-Known Member
I've never met anyone who gave a care about a failed CFI initial - DPE or FSDO. Full disclosure, I failed mine. Much of the time from what I've seen it isn't a fair, righteous, or "legal" failure, yet that never seems to matter, because who wants to start off by fighting with a DPE or an Inspector? In my case, my failure caused more embarrassment to the Inspector than it did to me, for reasons.

Best of luck OP and I hope you knock out the CFI soon.
LC
 

Silverhawkpmm

Well-Known Member
Thank you for the insight everyone. I'm the type that just kinda rolls with the punches and keeps going until the mission is accomplished. It's just helpful to share the experience and perhaps rant a bit once and a while :)
 

ahw01

Well-Known Member
Thank you for the insight everyone. I'm the type that just kinda rolls with the punches and keeps going until the mission is accomplished. It's just helpful to share the experience and perhaps rant a bit once and a while :)
What's the next step?
 

Fly_Unity

Well-Known Member
Lots of DPE bashing here I see!

I at one time did my share of that too as an instructor. However, as a DPE I realized the poor quality of applicants being sent to examiners.

I performed a Commercial checkride two weeks ago from a well known school. I asked what the oxygen requirements were, he had to look it up. I asked if I needed a transponder in Class B, he had to look it up. I asked what the visibility requirements were to takeoff at his home town airport, and he had to look at a sectional legend to see what airspace he was in, and then look up the visibility requirements for that class of airspace. Not only this, but he did not know how to use the index on his FAR/AIM. He had to google the the reference and then look it up. When I told him he couldn't use Google, he fumbled (flipping through random pages) trying to find the answer. Needlessly to say, he got an unSat. First thing he does is that he tells everyone that he busted because the examiner said 'he wasn't allowed to look at his notes or books' (completely not true).

Very common for applicants to say all the minor things they messed up on the checkride, but not the "Reason". I try to call the previous examiner who gave them the unsat, to get the real story.

I have close to 7,000 hours as an Instructor (12,000 total), and I signed off more than one applicant who killed themselves in an airplane due to pilot error. One time I came close to quitting when I heard about my applicant I signed off that killed himself, his wife and two kids. In the end I am trying my best to improve the quality of applicants, and one of the best ways to do it is to hold the standards high on CFI checkrides.

I had one applicant who got an unsat, and I never heard from him until day 59 after his unsat wanting a checkride that day. I was booked. Sorry man. Needless to say I was the bad guy.

I am part of a DPE forum where DPE's talk about their checkrides, ask advice, share concerns, talk about ways to improve checkrides. I do not detect any power ploy by anyone (quite the opposite in fact). We are just a group of pilots trying to do our jobs like everyone else on this forum.

I cant speak for your story, or for your DPE's misdeeds. But I can say that the majority of DPE's are doing a very good job (not perfect). I never met a DPE who had a "God complex", or one who is "out to bust you". I typically do not charge for retests. Its a money loss for me when I unsat a checkride. I am an instructor at heart, and my favorite part of the checkride is the debrief where I can actually do some teaching (regardless of the outcome).

Best of luck man. Keep plugging away. I'd call the examiner if I was you and share your concerns with him. Have a heart to heart.
 

CFIT99

I'm probably commenting ironically...
Lots of DPE bashing here I see!

I at one time did my share of that too as an instructor. However, as a DPE I realized the poor quality of applicants being sent to examiners.

I performed a Commercial checkride two weeks ago from a well known school. I asked what the oxygen requirements were, he had to look it up. I asked if I needed a transponder in Class B, he had to look it up. I asked what the visibility requirements were to takeoff at his home town airport, and he had to look at a sectional legend to see what airspace he was in, and then look up the visibility requirements for that class of airspace. Not only this, but he did not know how to use the index on his FAR/AIM. He had to google the the reference and then look it up. When I told him he couldn't use Google, he fumbled (flipping through random pages) trying to find the answer. Needlessly to say, he got an unSat. First thing he does is that he tells everyone that he busted because the examiner said 'he wasn't allowed to look at his notes or books' (completely not true).

Very common for applicants to say all the minor things they messed up on the checkride, but not the "Reason". I try to call the previous examiner who gave them the unsat, to get the real story.

I have close to 7,000 hours as an Instructor (12,000 total), and I signed off more than one applicant who killed themselves in an airplane due to pilot error. One time I came close to quitting when I heard about my applicant I signed off that killed himself, his wife and two kids. In the end I am trying my best to improve the quality of applicants, and one of the best ways to do it is to hold the standards high on CFI checkrides.

I had one applicant who got an unsat, and I never heard from him until day 59 after his unsat wanting a checkride that day. I was booked. Sorry man. Needless to say I was the bad guy.

I am part of a DPE forum where DPE's talk about their checkrides, ask advice, share concerns, talk about ways to improve checkrides. I do not detect any power ploy by anyone (quite the opposite in fact). We are just a group of pilots trying to do our jobs like everyone else on this forum.

I cant speak for your story, or for your DPE's misdeeds. But I can say that the majority of DPE's are doing a very good job (not perfect). I never met a DPE who had a "God complex", or one who is "out to bust you". I typically do not charge for retests. Its a money loss for me when I unsat a checkride. I am an instructor at heart, and my favorite part of the checkride is the debrief where I can actually do some teaching (regardless of the outcome).

Best of luck man. Keep plugging away. I'd call the examiner if I was you and share your concerns with him. Have a heart to heart.
I feel for you man, you're a DPE so regardless you get stuck between the rock and a hard place.

BUT know that places where it's a nightmare exist. I got my CFI a decade ago at the Dupage FSDO (outside Chicago) and it was a nightmare from the start. I get signed off and my instructor and I walk down to the office (it was on the field at DPA) and the first thing they say is after I tell them I like to schedule a CFI initial ride is: "the last 10 students this year alone failed, good luck!" (it was Jan 5th) my instructor was F***** pissed. Fast forward 2 months, 40+ calls to reschedule all due to weather or their conflicts ( apparently the DPE was also a corporate pilot that had "scheduling conflicts"), so I had to get signed off again because they wouldn't return my calls.

Finally I get to take the exam 73 days after being initially signed off and 7 hours in (i could be miss-remembering, it could have been longer), I get the pink slip. I remember the question to this day: " In one sentence, describe turns around a point". Now I had things I had answered incorrectly previously but apparently not fail worthy. When my instructor asked what went wrong, they said he did very well just missed a question. WTF

Eventually did the rest of the oral, it lasted 8 minutes, and then the flight, which was 2.7 hours. I got the cert but all in all it cost my about $1000 extra... I talk with other friends who did theirs through ATP and the WHOLE thing took 2 hours. Needless to say I was turned off from the whole process.

Granted this most likely is a RARE encounter, but just saying it happens.
 

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
Lots of DPE bashing here I see!

I at one time did my share of that too as an instructor. However, as a DPE I realized the poor quality of applicants being sent to examiners.

I performed a Commercial checkride two weeks ago from a well known school. I asked what the oxygen requirements were, he had to look it up. I asked if I needed a transponder in Class B, he had to look it up. I asked what the visibility requirements were to takeoff at his home town airport, and he had to look at a sectional legend to see what airspace he was in, and then look up the visibility requirements for that class of airspace. Not only this, but he did not know how to use the index on his FAR/AIM. He had to google the the reference and then look it up. When I told him he couldn't use Google, he fumbled (flipping through random pages) trying to find the answer. Needlessly to say, he got an unSat. First thing he does is that he tells everyone that he busted because the examiner said 'he wasn't allowed to look at his notes or books' (completely not true).

Very common for applicants to say all the minor things they messed up on the checkride, but not the "Reason". I try to call the previous examiner who gave them the unsat, to get the real story.

I have close to 7,000 hours as an Instructor (12,000 total), and I signed off more than one applicant who killed themselves in an airplane due to pilot error. One time I came close to quitting when I heard about my applicant I signed off that killed himself, his wife and two kids. In the end I am trying my best to improve the quality of applicants, and one of the best ways to do it is to hold the standards high on CFI checkrides.

I had one applicant who got an unsat, and I never heard from him until day 59 after his unsat wanting a checkride that day. I was booked. Sorry man. Needless to say I was the bad guy.

I am part of a DPE forum where DPE's talk about their checkrides, ask advice, share concerns, talk about ways to improve checkrides. I do not detect any power ploy by anyone (quite the opposite in fact). We are just a group of pilots trying to do our jobs like everyone else on this forum.

I cant speak for your story, or for your DPE's misdeeds. But I can say that the majority of DPE's are doing a very good job (not perfect). I never met a DPE who had a "God complex", or one who is "out to bust you". I typically do not charge for retests. Its a money loss for me when I unsat a checkride. I am an instructor at heart, and my favorite part of the checkride is the debrief where I can actually do some teaching (regardless of the outcome).

Best of luck man. Keep plugging away. I'd call the examiner if I was you and share your concerns with him. Have a heart to heart.
I like this post - it's a good reminder.

My question is thus: why is there so much variance with how the DPEs handle the checkrides? I realize there is supposed to be a plan of action, and that the ACS is the standard. Yet I have worked with 4 DPEs for my own training, and each was a radically different experience. I'd like to understand that - I know the FAA gives you guys latitude. For CFIs, it's our chiefs and DPEs that sort of regulate our quality and consistency, and, to a lesser degree the FAA. Who/what regulates the DPEs?
 

Fly_Unity

Well-Known Member
I like this post - it's a good reminder.

My question is thus: why is there so much variance with how the DPEs handle the checkrides? I realize there is supposed to be a plan of action, and that the ACS is the standard. Yet I have worked with 4 DPEs for my own training, and each was a radically different experience. I'd like to understand that - I know the FAA gives you guys latitude. For CFIs, it's our chiefs and DPEs that sort of regulate our quality and consistency, and, to a lesser degree the FAA. Who/what regulates the DPEs?
There are basically a couple processes that regulate us:

1. We go to Initial and then Biannual training with the FAA in OKC. Here they do scenarios where they do mock orals and simulator evals where they video record you and critique your checkrides. These guys work full time in training and standardization. They also send out newsletters with stories, standardization and tips, etc.

2. Our POI's do a yearly evaluation and approval on our Plans of Action. This document is our scenario, and questions on how we are going to perform the checkride under the ACS.

3. The FAA also does random observed checkrides with us, (supposed to be at least once a year).

4. We do an online course and a test that we must pass biannually.

5. We meet with the FSDO Annually for training for region specific training. This also involves looking at the accidents from new pilots, and what changes can improve safety from our testing.

6. the 8900.1 Volume 5, (and the .2 which is probably going away soon) is our Bible. Tells us exactly how to do a checkride, what briefs we must give, how our POA's must be created, etc. Its a lot of information. I printed it out, bound it, and take it with me on every checkride.

From my experience, it appears that in the last couple years the DPE training and oversight is becoming much more standardized. Also as new examiners come in, and older examiners leave (some claim they are being pushed out), the FAA is trying to take advantage of newer examiners and set them on the right path from the start. I am the youngest examiner in my FSDO region last I heard.

Again, I can not speak for every examiner. But every indication I see that they are trying to improve the old system and replace it with a heavily regulated system that pretty much takes out the nonsense that many speak on in this thread. The FAA has also has created a working group to look at the problems with DPE's and how they can improve the system. There are a few reforms that I cant speak to yet, but I believe there will be a few changes coming out of this that would be welcomed by flight schools, DPEs and applicants!

My main point though on my first post is that there are usually two sides (or three sides) to every checkride story.
 
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Bamaaviator

Well-Known Member
Lots of DPE bashing here I see!

I at one time did my share of that too as an instructor. However, as a DPE I realized the poor quality of applicants being sent to examiners.

I performed a Commercial checkride two weeks ago from a well known school. I asked what the oxygen requirements were, he had to look it up. I asked if I needed a transponder in Class B, he had to look it up. I asked what the visibility requirements were to takeoff at his home town airport, and he had to look at a sectional legend to see what airspace he was in, and then look up the visibility requirements for that class of airspace. Not only this, but he did not know how to use the index on his FAR/AIM. He had to google the the reference and then look it up. When I told him he couldn't use Google, he fumbled (flipping through random pages) trying to find the answer. Needlessly to say, he got an unSat. First thing he does is that he tells everyone that he busted because the examiner said 'he wasn't allowed to look at his notes or books' (completely not true).

Very common for applicants to say all the minor things they messed up on the checkride, but not the "Reason". I try to call the previous examiner who gave them the unsat, to get the real story.

I have close to 7,000 hours as an Instructor (12,000 total), and I signed off more than one applicant who killed themselves in an airplane due to pilot error. One time I came close to quitting when I heard about my applicant I signed off that killed himself, his wife and two kids. In the end I am trying my best to improve the quality of applicants, and one of the best ways to do it is to hold the standards high on CFI checkrides.

I had one applicant who got an unsat, and I never heard from him until day 59 after his unsat wanting a checkride that day. I was booked. Sorry man. Needless to say I was the bad guy.

I am part of a DPE forum where DPE's talk about their checkrides, ask advice, share concerns, talk about ways to improve checkrides. I do not detect any power ploy by anyone (quite the opposite in fact). We are just a group of pilots trying to do our jobs like everyone else on this forum.

I cant speak for your story, or for your DPE's misdeeds. But I can say that the majority of DPE's are doing a very good job (not perfect). I never met a DPE who had a "God complex", or one who is "out to bust you". I typically do not charge for retests. Its a money loss for me when I unsat a checkride. I am an instructor at heart, and my favorite part of the checkride is the debrief where I can actually do some teaching (regardless of the outcome).

Best of luck man. Keep plugging away. I'd call the examiner if I was you and share your concerns with him. Have a heart to heart.
I completely understand, I was the one doing a lot of the bashing, so I do apologize if I came across as a bashful CFI. In reality, I am actmuch more on the side of the DPE than the applicant. There are 2 sides to the story, and more often than not when I talk to a student who failed a previous checkride, things start ‘coming out’ about the oral/flight portion and it has me thinking “ok, I can definitely understand why you didn’t pass the ride. Quit blaming your DPE.”

More often than not I am definitely on the side of the examiner, however every long once in a while I hear these crazy stories, and when it came to the OP’s scenario, I wasn’t there, but when people say that the DPE said “no notes whatsoever” it blows my mind. I have heard that about other DPE’s over the last several years regarding CFI rides, that no notes permitted, no looking stuff up. It has me scratching my head. Now, again, I wasn’t ‘there,’ so I can’t say with 100 % certainty that the DPE maybe went too far, but it doesn’t say anywhere in the CFI PTS that applicants can’t reference their notes, lesson plans, etc.

I think when applicants are told that, it will make them stumble even more. Even the most experienced instructors have to look stuff up every now and then. I remember back in college and in high school, some of my teachers, even the more experienced ones, would occasionally walk over and glance at their notes on the podium. Now, if the CFI applicant has to depend on their notes, then I’d say that’s definitely an unsat. But if they need to look at them every few minutes while doing a lesson, I see nothing wrong with it. Not reading from them, or staring at them, but quick glances. Because the reality is, they will need to look stuff up while teaching actual students. Everyone does. I’ve worked with very experienced CFI’s that sometimes have to look something up in the FAR/AIM. They better know the layout of the FAR/AIM and know how it’s organized. If I were doing a CFI ride and I noticed the applicant took awhile to find stuff because he doesn’t seem to know the layout of the book very well, has poor research skills, etc., then yea, I would start to lose my patience with the applicant as they clearly aren’t prepared to be a teacher. I’ve witnessed that with several CFI applicants I’ve worked with.

But idk, I cringe when I hear it every long once in a while that a CFI applicant was told to “close everything up, no notes, no references, no looking anything up.”
 

Shiftace

Beating up the pattern in a Piper.
I feel for you man, you're a DPE so regardless you get stuck between the rock and a hard place.

BUT know that places where it's a nightmare exist. I got my CFI a decade ago at the Dupage FSDO (outside Chicago) and it was a nightmare from the start. I get signed off and my instructor and I walk down to the office (it was on the field at DPA) and the first thing they say is after I tell them I like to schedule a CFI initial ride is: "the last 10 students this year alone failed, good luck!" (it was Jan 5th) my instructor was F***** pissed. Fast forward 2 months, 40+ calls to reschedule all due to weather or their conflicts ( apparently the DPE was also a corporate pilot that had "scheduling conflicts"), so I had to get signed off again because they wouldn't return my calls.

Finally I get to take the exam 73 days after being initially signed off and 7 hours in (i could be miss-remembering, it could have been longer), I get the pink slip. I remember the question to this day: " In one sentence, describe turns around a point". Now I had things I had answered incorrectly previously but apparently not fail worthy. When my instructor asked what went wrong, they said he did very well just missed a question. WTF

Eventually did the rest of the oral, it lasted 8 minutes, and then the flight, which was 2.7 hours. I got the cert but all in all it cost my about $1000 extra... I talk with other friends who did theirs through ATP and the WHOLE thing took 2 hours. Needless to say I was turned off from the whole process.

Granted this most likely is a RARE encounter, but just saying it happens.
Am working on my CFI and I am at the point where I am ready to schedule my ride. I called the Fargo FSDO; but they never returned my call. Maybe thought I was a crank caller. Spoke to 3 different DPEs, including one that my current instructor sent his last candidate to. One DPE has not done any rides in a long time owing to medical issues. He said he would be willing to do my ride, but it would be an observed ride. His comments to me when we talked - "No one passes this ride on their first attempt. Be prepared to spend a day doing ground stuff and maybe having to reconvene on the second to do the flying."

The other gentleman does his rides like most others around here. 3-4 hours on the ground + a solid 1.8 to 2.0 in the bird. A lot of the flying is by the candidate. Did not reach out to the other guy who also manages a flight school locally...
 

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
Am working on my CFI and I am at the point where I am ready to schedule my ride. I called the Fargo FSDO; but they never returned my call. Maybe thought I was a crank caller. Spoke to 3 different DPEs, including one that my current instructor sent his last candidate to. One DPE has not done any rides in a long time owing to medical issues. He said he would be willing to do my ride, but it would be an observed ride. His comments to me when we talked - "No one passes this ride on their first attempt. Be prepared to spend a day doing ground stuff and maybe having to reconvene on the second to do the flying."

The other gentleman does his rides like most others around here. 3-4 hours on the ground + a solid 1.8 to 2.0 in the bird. A lot of the flying is by the candidate. Did not reach out to the other guy who also manages a flight school locally...
The first DPE you should avoid like the plague. His view is prejudiced....you've already failed (even if he's an observer) without demonstrating competence.

Second guy sounds reasonable.
 

Shiftace

Beating up the pattern in a Piper.
The first DPE you should avoid like the plague. His view is prejudiced....you've already failed (even if he's an observer) without demonstrating competence.

Second guy sounds reasonable.
To be clear: The FAA would be observing that checkride. Either way, as my instructor said.. "and he want's to charge you for this experience??".


On this topic: what is the general consensus with DPEs who own and operate flight schools? We have a few around here, but the scuttlebutt from pilots around the area is that failure rates are high, if you are not a student at said school or haven't been trained by their CFIs.
 

gotWXdagain

Polished Member
To be clear: The FAA would be observing that checkride. Either way, as my instructor said.. "and he want's to charge you for this experience??".


On this topic: what is the general consensus with DPEs who own and operate flight schools? We have a few around here, but the scuttlebutt from pilots around the area is that failure rates are high, if you are not a student at said school or haven't been trained by their CFIs.
I did my ATP in your locality. Did some training with an instructor then the ride with the school’s DPE. Came prepared, had a good experience overall.
 

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
To be clear: The FAA would be observing that checkride. Either way, as my instructor said.. "and he want's to charge you for this experience??".


On this topic: what is the general consensus with DPEs who own and operate flight schools? We have a few around here, but the scuttlebutt from pilots around the area is that failure rates are high, if you are not a student at said school or haven't been trained by their CFIs.
I've trained in one place where the school owner was the DPE - that was down at Jack Brown's when I did the CSES ride. He was completely removed from the training process, and, in fact, it's my one busted checkride. (could NOT remember how to do a step-taxi. Total brain vapor lock.)

There are other schools which have self-examining authority. They're very closely monitored and engaged with their FSDOs for quality control and process, in my experience.
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
I like this post - it's a good reminder.

My question is thus: why is there so much variance with how the DPEs handle the checkrides? I realize there is supposed to be a plan of action, and that the ACS is the standard. Yet I have worked with 4 DPEs for my own training, and each was a radically different experience. I'd like to understand that - I know the FAA gives you guys latitude. For CFIs, it's our chiefs and DPEs that sort of regulate our quality and consistency, and, to a lesser degree the FAA. Who/what regulates the DPEs?
Simple: Technique vs procedure. The standards and procedures are all the same. How the individual DPE, just as how th individual CFI, goes about it, can and does vary between each.

I completely understand, I was the one doing a lot of the bashing, so I do apologize if I came across as a bashful CFI. In reality, I am actmuch more on the side of the DPE than the applicant. There are 2 sides to the story, and more often than not when I talk to a student who failed a previous checkride, things start ‘coming out’ about the oral/flight portion and it has me thinking “ok, I can definitely understand why you didn’t pass the ride. Quit blaming your DPE.”

More often than not I am definitely on the side of the examiner, however every long once in a while I hear these crazy stories, and when it came to the OP’s scenario, I wasn’t there, but when people say that the DPE said “no notes whatsoever” it blows my mind. I have heard that about other DPE’s over the last several years regarding CFI rides, that no notes permitted, no looking stuff up. It has me scratching my head. Now, again, I wasn’t ‘there,’ so I can’t say with 100 % certainty that the DPE maybe went too far, but it doesn’t say anywhere in the CFI PTS that applicants can’t reference their notes, lesson plans, etc.

I think when applicants are told that, it will make them stumble even more. Even the most experienced instructors have to look stuff up every now and then. I remember back in college and in high school, some of my teachers, even the more experienced ones, would occasionally walk over and glance at their notes on the podium. Now, if the CFI applicant has to depend on their notes, then I’d say that’s definitely an unsat. But if they need to look at them every few minutes while doing a lesson, I see nothing wrong with it. Not reading from them, or staring at them, but quick glances. Because the reality is, they will need to look stuff up while teaching actual students. Everyone does. I’ve worked with very experienced CFI’s that sometimes have to look something up in the FAR/AIM. They better know the layout of the FAR/AIM and know how it’s organized. If I were doing a CFI ride and I noticed the applicant took awhile to find stuff because he doesn’t seem to know the layout of the book very well, has poor research skills, etc., then yea, I would start to lose my patience with the applicant as they clearly aren’t prepared to be a teacher. I’ve witnessed that with several CFI applicants I’ve worked with.

But idk, I cringe when I hear it every long once in a while that a CFI applicant was told to “close everything up, no notes, no references, no looking anything up.”
Certain things, guys should know. But at a minimum they should have a working idea, and also at a minimum should know exactly where to look the information up. All of these qualities are being tested. I still marvel for example, while giving a checkride, and asking the checkee a question of something on a sectional, or the TAC, or the HELLA chart, and they’re racking their brain trying to figure it out.....the answer is right on the cover son, look it up. You have that available.

As stated here, an applicant can’t look up everything, but a balance of knowledge and knowing where to find things, is fine.

The CFI ride.....really any checkride.......isn’t supposed to be a cakewalk, it’s supposed to be challenging. However it’s also not supposed to be a pointless haze for no reason, nor some right of passage of “everyone fails this the first time”. There is a balance that the examiner needs to maintain.

As an aside, and I know the FAA disagrees, but Im one who thinks a checkride is also a learning ride. Every ride is. If something needs a little bit of teaching, so be it. No one knows everything, and if a checkee can leave a ride not just having passed, but having learned something new, or things new as takeaways, then they become a better pilot for it.
 

BEEF SUPREME

Well-Known Member
Lots of DPE bashing here I see!

I at one time did my share of that too as an instructor. However, as a DPE I realized the poor quality of applicants being sent to examiners.

I performed a Commercial checkride two weeks ago from a well known school. I asked what the oxygen requirements were, he had to look it up. I asked if I needed a transponder in Class B, he had to look it up. I asked what the visibility requirements were to takeoff at his home town airport, and he had to look at a sectional legend to see what airspace he was in, and then look up the visibility requirements for that class of airspace. Not only this, but he did not know how to use the index on his FAR/AIM. He had to google the the reference and then look it up. When I told him he couldn't use Google, he fumbled (flipping through random pages) trying to find the answer. Needlessly to say, he got an unSat. First thing he does is that he tells everyone that he busted because the examiner said 'he wasn't allowed to look at his notes or books' (completely not true).

Very common for applicants to say all the minor things they messed up on the checkride, but not the "Reason". I try to call the previous examiner who gave them the unsat, to get the real story.

I have close to 7,000 hours as an Instructor (12,000 total), and I signed off more than one applicant who killed themselves in an airplane due to pilot error. One time I came close to quitting when I heard about my applicant I signed off that killed himself, his wife and two kids. In the end I am trying my best to improve the quality of applicants, and one of the best ways to do it is to hold the standards high on CFI checkrides.

I had one applicant who got an unsat, and I never heard from him until day 59 after his unsat wanting a checkride that day. I was booked. Sorry man. Needless to say I was the bad guy.

I am part of a DPE forum where DPE's talk about their checkrides, ask advice, share concerns, talk about ways to improve checkrides. I do not detect any power ploy by anyone (quite the opposite in fact). We are just a group of pilots trying to do our jobs like everyone else on this forum.

I cant speak for your story, or for your DPE's misdeeds. But I can say that the majority of DPE's are doing a very good job (not perfect). I never met a DPE who had a "God complex", or one who is "out to bust you". I typically do not charge for retests. Its a money loss for me when I unsat a checkride. I am an instructor at heart, and my favorite part of the checkride is the debrief where I can actually do some teaching (regardless of the outcome).

Best of luck man. Keep plugging away. I'd call the examiner if I was you and share your concerns with him. Have a heart to heart.
Cool story bro. I failed my CFI. I haven’t had another failed check ride or bent metal for the 15+ years. Lump me in with the poor applicant pile. That’s fine.

You know why I don’t care what you think? You don’t matter. Your job is a joke and aviation training is a dumpster fire. The FAA and everyone involved is something for professionals to laugh at.

Say what you want to make yourself feel better. Oh look. No one cares because you’re the aviation career equivalent of a bump in the road.


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